|Sustaining the Future: Economic, Social, and Environmental Change in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNU, 1996, 365 pages)|
|Part 5: Environment and development in Ghana|
|Institutional issues on the environment and resource management with reference to Ghana|
The above institutional problems and issues were to be addressed by the Environmental Protection Council (EPC), which is responsible for coordination of action by various individuals and organizations, monitoring action, and reporting to government. Generally, this role of the EPC is undisputed and there is broad public acceptance of the authority of the EPC, even though it has been argued that it needs to be given enforcement powers in order to prosecute.
The role of the EPC in the implementation of the EAP has remained unchanged. However, the focus of its operations, based on the provisions of the national environmental policy and related policy orientations, has shifted from an emphasis on environmental protection to environmental resource management. The need for effective management of the environment is a recurrent theme of the EAP. In the light of this, the EPC has been given increased functions, which include the following:
· to issue environmental permits and pollution abatement notices for controlling the volume, types, constituents, and effects of waste discharges, emissions, deposits, or other sources of pollutants and of substances that are hazardous or potentially dangerous to the quality of the environment or any segment of the environment;
· to issue notices in the form of directives, procedures, or warnings to such bodies as it may determine for the purpose of controlling the volume, intensity, and quality of noise in the environment;
· to ensure compliance with any laid down environmental impact assessment procedures in the planning and execution of development projects, including compliance in respect of existing projects;
· to impose and collect environmental protection levies in accordance with the Act or regulations made under the Act setting up the EPC.
To reflect these changes and to invest the EPC with more powers, the Council has been redesignated as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within the new Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology.
In order to resolve the institutional issues, the Ghana Environmental Resource Management System (GERMS) has been made part of the implementation programme of the Environmental Action Plan. The proposed system would ensure that there is no duplication of roles. The system envisages the development of an Environmental Information System (EIS) incorporating topographic, land capability, and current land-use information, the processing of meteorological information, and the determination of land ownership on the scale of 1: 250,000. GERMS will involve communities and government institutions in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of the sustainable use of environmental resources.
GERMS will provide a framework for policy formulation, planning, monitoring, problem solving, and implementation. Because most environmental concerns are intersectoral in nature and decisions involve choices between alternatives and possibly conflicting courses of action that carry costs and benefits, the management system should ensure that all possible options are considered, as well as the technical, economic, financial, social, or political implications of issues, by the various sectoral agencies involved to reflect national, district, or community development priorities.
GERMS is to create intersectoral linkages to bring together sectoral agencies and communities whose activities impinge on the environment. There are four intersectoral networks: built environment, natural resources, mining, and education. These networks will be supported by specialists in the areas of environmental economics, environmental impact assessment, environmental quality, and data management. The EPA therefore provides a forum for detailed discussions of environmental issues prior to making recommendations to government decision makers.
At the local level, district assemblies, which are the district planning authorities, together with district environmental management committees will provide a firm basis for local management of the environment. This is in line with the government's decentralization programme, which allows district, municipal, and metropolitan assemblies to have a central role in ensuring the protection and management of the environment.